In the last year, Lecrae has steadily become more of a household name in hip-hop circles. Thanks to work with Statik Selektah, shout outs from artists like Kendrick Lamar, and, more recently, his Don Cannon-hosted Church Clothes mixtape—which features No Malice as well as production from 9th Wonder and Boi-1da—Lecrae has been building upon his already substantial fanbase in the Christian community. New listeners are realizing that this MC with a message can really spit. Here, for those who may be playing catch up, Lecrae offers his nine most essential songs, from his first album in 2004 through last month's mixtape. —Adam Fleischer (@AdamXXL)

1. “Take Me As I Am,” Real Talk (2004)
You would have to listen to “Take Me As I Am,” off my first project, Real Talk. It’s really more or less the Church Clothes message. It’s a story [of] a cat who’s like, ‘Man, I smell like weed. God, I smell like weed. You really can do something with me? You can mess with me?’ And just articulating that, absolutely, He can.

2. “Prayin’ For You,” After The Music Stops (2006)
I would also say “Prayin’ For You,” which is just a song that talks about this person that’s blowin’ it, messin’ up, trying to get right. And I’m praying for him, like, ‘Man, this dude needs help.’ And at the end, I reveal that that person is really me.

3. “Rise,” Church Clothes (2012)
I’d probably say “Rise,” with 9th Wonder, off the Church Clothes mixtape. Simply because it’s me doing just that hip-hop in its essence. Classic boom bap hip-hop, but me running through the list of what I’ve seen and what I’ve experienced and substance in music and how it needs to level the playing field.

4. “Background,” Rehab (2010)
“Background,” which is more of a slow, pop joint with my man Andy Mineo which is just about me not trying to be a superstar. I’m not really caring about shining like that. I just want to play the background and do what I’m put here to do.

5. “Cold World,” Church Clothes (2012)
“Cold World,” off the Chruch Clothes mixtape, just because it’s that smooth, Southern vibe. My man Street Symphony put it down. And on top of that it articulates how this world works and how cold it can be sometimes.

To read the rest of this interview click here: http://www.xxlmag.com/features/2012/06/lecrae-breaks-down-his-nine-most-essential-songs




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